Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Over a series of vigorous dissents as to the adequacy of sanction, the New York Commission on Judicial Conduct has censured Bronx County Surrogate Court Judge Lee Holtzman.
This press release summarizes the case, which involved his failure to act when learning that one of his appointees had "improperly taken excessive fees, and fees in advance of doing work on...estates, resulting in negative balances of $300,000 to $400,000."
By allowing his appointee to stay in the position of trust, the judge abdicated his ethical responsibilities.
The money came from the estates of persons who died without a will.
Dissents call for the judge's removal from office.
From member Richard Emery:
What I do know is that this is one of the most egregious cases that has ever been litigated before this Commission during the nine years I have served. To allow respondent to escape removal on these undisputed facts out of deference or undue leniency towars a retiring judge degrades our function to a degree that I have not yet witnessed. Respondent's favoritism towards Lippman [the appontied attorney] should not be compounded by our favoritism towards him.
The censure will allow the judge to retire. (Mike Frisch)